Edited By: J Lynch
1690 pages, 4 volume set
This four-volume collection is the third set in the Thoemmes Press series "Evolution and Anti-Evolution: Debates Before and After Darwin". Following on from "Vestiges and the Debate Before Darwin" (December 2000) and "Evolution and the Spontaneous Generation Debate" (April 2001), this compilation examines the early reactions by scientists and theologians to Darwin's controversial theory of natural selection set out in his "On the Origin of Species" (1859). The material collected in this set covers a range of British responses, from the watershed publication of "Origin" to just before the appearance of "The Descent of Man" (1871). Opinions during that period ranged from outright rejection by the likes of Adam Sedgwick through to acceptance and modification by Alfred Russel Wallace. Volume 1 begins with the major review of "Origin" by supporters such as T.H. Huxley and Joseph Dalton Hooker and opponents such as Adam Sedgwick and Richard Owen. Also included in this volume is Fleeming Jenkin's review of 1867, a piece which Darwin himself felt to be the best and most helpful critical review of his work. The volume ends with the first book-length refutation of transmutation, by Charles Bree. The remaining three volumes contain key hard-to-find books that give a flavour of the diverse opinions of scientists and theologians surrounding the natural selection theory. This gathering of rare and unattainable material illustrates the contemporary reaction to Darwin's theory, but also shows the importance of periodical review in the 19th century scientific debate and of these Victorian writers as popularizers of science. Scholars of Darwinism andthe history of science will be able to examine this period in the development of evolutionary thought with reference to the primary source material. The collection is also useful to those studying the influence of the early British controversies on the development of American anti-evolutionism, an influence that in many respects set the tone of the debate up to 2000 and beyond.
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